University of Michigan
The week before my second birthday was my introduction to the world of
Legos. My mother was busily getting ready for Christmas and needed to keep me occupied so she let me play with my 12-year-old brother’s Legos.
Although she did not think I would be interested, I sat on the carpet creating airplanes, cars and rocket ships for nine hours. That was the beginning of my love affair with engineering, design and building.
Soon clocks, motors, even new bicycles were not safe from my screwdriver or pliers, much to the consternation of my mother. My dad, a builder by avocation, was thrilled when I asked to help him and demanded an explanation of how everything worked as we repaired the house and added on to our summer camp. My father taught me many skills, how to build walls, plumb a bathroom, wire a house, lay hardwood fl oors, install windows and add cedar siding. Using many power tools and saws was fun, but the care I learned in planning and executing each step for highest quality was especially important.
In addition, I have an insatiable hunger for knowledge. When young, I read the World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Britannica as other kids read comic books and the backs of cereal boxes. No matter how much I learned I sought to know more. I wanted to understand the way things work more than I wanted the newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action fi gure. For my ninth birthday, my grandmother gave me a subscription to
Discover magazine. I read every issue cover-to-cover, reading past bedtime to learn about fl y-wheel engines, archaeological digs in China and the moons of Jupiter. I can never thank my “Grandmommy” enough for adding fuel to my fi re for learning.
My father’s and my latest project, due to our shared love of astronomy, was building a fi ve-foot-long, six-inch diameter refl ecting telescope with a
Dobsonian mount. It was here I fi rst really appreciated my dad’s demand for perfection. After days of work, the result was incredible. The starry view is breathtaking—it adds so much to my excitement as I read Steven
Hawking’s and others’ views on cosmology.
As the Senior Patrol Leader in my Boy Scout Troop, I have experienced the importance of teaching and inspiring younger scouts so they will develop the skills and values that I have learned. As an Eagle Scout, I had to design, organize and direct the troop in completing a major project. Utilizing theknowledge gained through working with my father and the communication skills developed through leadership in Boy Scouting and Presbyterian youth work, we extended the hiking trail system in our community by building a 20-foot by 4-foot bridge across a stream near the Hudson River.
Not only is there satisfaction in seeing the completed bridge, there is the more important realization that my leadership is helping younger scouts develop into responsible, community-involved citizens. I’m very proud of them. My church leadership role, as moderator of the Presbyterian Youth Connection
Council for eight states, has allowed me to share my hope for the future, faith and vision with thousands in my generation and with adults across the Northeast.
Because of a baseball accident at age 10, the nerve in my right ear is dead, leaving me with only monaural hearing. Surgery did not work, and conventional hearing aids can’t help people who are totally deaf in one ear. Fortunately, creative innovation combined with technological development has provided a “cutting edge” solution. A doctor in Connecticut has developed a trans-cranial hearing aid—the sound produced by the aid is transmitted so powerfully that it is conducted through the skull to the nerves in the good ear, on the opposite side of my head. With this, I can hear stereophonically as my brain interprets the second set of sound as though it was coming through my right ear.
As the benefi ciary of one man’s creative skills, I